In some cases, the 30-day timeframe from a request to provide an individual with access to her PHI may not be sufficient time for a clinical laboratory to complete the test report that is the subject of the individual’s request. What can a clinical laboratory do in these cases?
In those limited cases where, due to the nature of the test and the timing of the individual’s request, 30 calendar days may not be sufficient to complete a test report to which the individual has requested access, the laboratory may notify the individual in writing within the 30-day period of the need and specific reason for the delay in providing access to the completed test result and the date by which the laboratory will complete its action on the request, in accordance with § 164.524(b)(2)(iii) of the HIPAA Privacy Rule. The Privacy Rule allows only one extension on an access request and the extension may not exceed an additional 30 calendar days. In the rare circumstance where 60 calendar days is not sufficient to provide the individual with access to the completed test report requested by the individual, the covered laboratory may, at the end of the 60 day period, satisfy the access request by providing the individual with access to the PHI that does exist at the time (e.g., test requisitions, the underlying data being used to generate the reports, other completed test reports) in the designated record set.
However, to avoid this situation to the extent possible, in cases where the laboratory knows that a particular test report will take longer than the HIPAA access timeframes, we expect the laboratory to explain this circumstance to the individual. Upon informing individuals of this situation when they request access, the individuals may be willing to withdraw or hold their request until a later time to ensure that they get access to what they want or need. If an individual chooses not to withdraw his or her request for access, the individual will then have a right only to obtain the PHI in the designated record set at the time the request is fulfilled, which may not include the particular test report requested because it is not yet complete.